“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.” ~ Isaiah 66:8
This has been a fascinating verse for me for several years now – the idea that there’s times when God does amazing things in a crazy short amount of time, in contrast to long amounts of time of working and labouring to see fruit. Such is more or less the case with this story.
One day, a couple of my friends went to the local United Nations building in order to try to meet some refugees to get them connected with our refugee ministry. When they got there, they were disappointed to find that the UN building had been moved, so there were only a couple refugees hanging out there. One friend ended up getting into conversation with these guys, and gave his personal phone number to one of them in order to get in contact later.
About two weeks go by and not much is heard in the aftermath of that event, until one day my friend gets a phone call: “Hi! My name is Muhammad, I heard you help with a local church and you’re ministering to refugees. I’m a refugee from Iraq and I have some questions. Can we meet?”
“Yeah,” my friend says. “You can come to our church service at 11, and we can talk there, if that works.”
“I’ll be there.”
Sunday comes, and my friend and I, and an Arabic speaking friend of ours were hanging out in front of the church. As we’re sitting, Muhammad and his friend, Zarah, walk up to the church. We all get introduced and sit down and start chatting.
Muhammad begins, “So, I have questions about Jesus and Christianity. Can you help me with them?”
“Yeah, we can try!” I reply.
“Ok, good. So, one of my questions is this: for the last 10 years, whenever I walk into a mosque I feel this emptiness inside of me, but whenever I walk into a church I feel this deep sense of peace and safety. And whenever I open up the Quran to read it, I feel that same emptiness. But when I read the Injel [the New Testament], I feel that same sense of peace. Can you tell me about why that is?”
After taking a moment to process the profoundness and amazingness of such a statement (and picking up my dropped jaw), I replied, “Well, in the Injel it says that Isa (the local pronunciation of Jesus’ name), is the Prince of Peace, and He sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of us and give us peace. So, when you’re reading the Injel or when you walk into a church, that’s Jesus Spirit touching you.”
“That’s amazing! I want more of that! How can I get that?”
So we explained how Jesus wants to come and live inside of us, take away our sin, and give us His righteousness, and how we need to give our whole lives to Him so He can have all of who we are.
“Yes! I want to do that! How do I do that?”
So we prayed with him and his friend, and they gave their lives to Isa, and asked His Spirit to come and make His home inside of them.
When we finishes, Muhammad through tears said, “Thank you. Thank you so so much. This is the moment I’ve been needing and searching for, for 14 years. Thank you.”
We’ve since got them connected with people to help desiple them in more of the things of Isa, and in what it looks like to follow Him. Also, Muhammad, no longer wanting to be know as a follower of Islam but instead as a student and follower of Jesus, has been asking that people call him by his new name: Mark.
“Lift up your eyes. See! The fields are ripe for the harvest!” ~ Isa